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Rabbanit Sharon Rimon


O n the first day of Rosh                       Of course, we can ask G-d to bless us     destiny. It is all in His hands. When
            Hashanah we read the story          with abundance and a good life. But       we come in prayer before G-d, and
            of Chana. Why was this              what is the deeper aim of our requests?   particularly at this time of year, we feel
 Haftarah chosen? Our Sages attributed          Chana teaches us that our prayers should  just how dependent we are on Him.
 huge importance to Chana’s prayer.             be aligned with our service of G-d
 The Talmud in Berachot 29a says that           rather than to achieve our own personal   In summary, we learn from Chana that
 because the name of G-d appears nine           comfort.
 times in Chana’s prayer, we say nine                                                     1.	 A prerequisite for prayer is our
 blessings in the Musaf Amidah on Rosh       "Secondly, how many times do we pray              commitment to become better
 Hashanah.                                      for something, cry and plead, yet when         people in some way.
 Chana’s prayer, one woman’s prayer,
 determines the prayers for the entire         One woman’s prayer                         2.	 We must examine the aim of our
 Jewish people! Apart from that, we            determines the prayers for                      request and not just the request
 derive many of the laws of prayer from        the entire Jewish people                        itself. It cannot be just for our own
 Chana.1                                                                                       pleasure but to add good to the
 Let us focus on some other important           our prayers are answered, do we take           world, to sanctify G-d’s name.
 lessons. Firstly, Chana teaches us what to     the time to thank G-d? When Chana’s
 ask for and the aim of the request:            request is answered, she immediately      3.	 We should express gratitude for
 “And she vowed a vow, and said… if             thanks Him: “And Hannah prayed, and            everything we have, and particularly
 You will indeed look on the affliction of      said: my heart exults… because I rejoice       after our prayers are answered.
 Your handmaid, and remember me… I              in Your salvation.”3
 will give him to G-d all the days of his       And another thing Chana teaches us is     4.	 We should include all Jews in our
 life…”2                                        that we should include the entire Jewish       prayers. That is why the blessings in
 Her request comes with a vow.                  people in our prayers, finishing her           the Amidah are in the plural. Even if
 Sometimes we ask G-d for things but            prayer with the words, “And He will give       we ourselves need good health or a
 don’t offer Him anything in return. We         strength unto His king, and exalt the          job, we pray for the same thing for
 don’t commit to doing anything. Chana          horn of His anointed.”4                        the rest of our people too.
 makes a vow, and that vow is connected         Apart from these fundamental elements,
 to the request she makes. Chana is             Chana emphasizes another key motif        Chana’s prayer sharpens our awareness
 not just asking for a free lunch. She is       which is also central to Rosh Hashanah:   of G-d’s absolute control of the world.
 prepared to earn it.                           “G-d kills, and makes alive… brings       We are not in control. We act, we work,
 And the request itself ? She asks for a        down to the grave, and brings up…         we build, but G-d is behind us, pulling
 son, something she wants so much, yet          makes poor, and makes rich… brings        the strings and making sure it all works
 she immediately promises to dedicate           low, lifts up...”5                        out for the good.
 him to G-d. From here we learn that            Chana expresses G-d’s control over
 the aim of our requests should not be          the world; His ability to change human    1 See Berachot 24b and other places.
 egotistical (so he’ll help me/ so I can be                                               2 Samuel 1, 1:11.
 happy/ so the family will continue…),                                                    3 Ibid. 2:1.
 but rather that we use what we have for                                                  4 Ibid. 2:10.
 the service of G-d.                                                                      5 Ibid. 2:6-8.

                                                                                          Rabbanit Sharon Rimon teaches Tanach
                                                                                          and is Content Editor for the Herzog
                                                                                          Tanach website:

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